Should you buy an iPad Air 3 (2019) in 2020?

iPad Air 3
iPad Air 3 (Image credit: iMore)

Should you buy an iPad Air 3 (2019) in 2020?

Best answer: With the arrival of the 2020 iPad Pro lineup, the iPad Air 3 (2019) is now the oldest current tablet being offered by Apple. Despite this, it remains an excellent choice for creatives and video-takers who need extras the budget iPad doesn't provide. Still, we're not recommending it for most tablet buyers right now due to its age and price.A better choice right now for most: iPad 7 (2019) (from $329 at Apple)Mid-priced goodness: iPad Air 3 (2019) (from $499 at Apple)Best and most expensive: iPad Pro (2020) (from $799 at Apple)

The Goldilocks choice

First introduced in March 2019 alongside the iPad mini 5, the iPad Air 3 (2019) surprised many when it was released. Before this, the iPad Air name hadn't been used for over two years. Its place in the iPad lineup makes sense, however. The tablet is right in the middle between the iPad Pro and iPad 7.

With the iPad Air 3 (2019), you receive a 10.5-inch Retina display with wide-gamut and TrueTone ambient color temperature matching. It also comes with Apple's A12 Bionic chipset, the same one in the iPhone XS, 3GB of memory, a Lightning connector, Touch ID biometric fingerprint sensor, two stereo speakers, a 7-megapixel, 1080p front-facing camera and an 8-egapixel, wide color f/2.4, and 1080p rear camera. You can get it in silver, space gray, or gold, with 64GB or 264GB of storage.

For this, you can expect to pay at least what you would for the original iPad in 2010 — around $499.

Versus the iPad 7

The iPad Air 3 (2019) is $170 more than the iPad 7 (2019), which arrived on a scene a few months later. For the extra cost, you get a better chip (A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine vs. A10 Fusion chip), more storage availability (up to 256GB vs. a maximum of 128GB), and a better, slightly larger display. There's also a better front-facing camera on the iPad Air 3 (2019) (7MP compared to 1.2MP).

Versus the second-generation 11-inch iPad Pro

Launched in March 2020, the 11-inch iPad (second-generation) is the first new iPad Pro in nearly two years (along with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (fourth-generation). You'll pay at least $300 more for the 11-inch iPad Pro over the iPad Air 3 (2019).

For the extra price, you'll receive Apple Pencil (second-generation) compatibility, an A12Z Bionic chip with Neural Engine, more memory, up to 1TB of storage, 12-megapixel wide and 10-megapixel Ultra Wide cameras, compatibility with the upcoming Magic Keyboard, a USB-C connector, and much more.

Who should buy the iPad Air 3 (2019)

If you're a creative professional, heavy gamer, or someone who needs the latest and greatest technology, go with the 2020 iPad Pro. For everyone else, the decision whether to purchase the iPad Air 3 (2019) or iPad 7 (2019), comes down to three critical factors: price, storage, and speed.

When storage is most important (think lots of photo- and video-taking, and casual gaming), the iPad Air 3 is the better choice, since you can have twice the fun! The iPad Air is also speedier, thanks to a better chip. With regards to price, the iPad Air 3 (2019) is more expensive; however, because it's older, you might be able to find it at a discount.

But iPad 7 (2019) is our choice for most

However, because of its age, the iPad Air 3 (2019) isn't the ideal choice for most folks, unless you can get it at a discount or need the extra storage it provides. Therefore, go with the iPad 7 (2019). which isn't that much different, is a newer device, and yes, will save you some significant cash.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.